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Nuclear energy worldwide 2024

What happened last year in the field of nuclear energy? What developments can be observed internationally? The following overview shows the situation broken down by continent (Europe, America, Asia and Africa). Australia/Oceania is not included, as no nuclear power plants are operated there. After a brief summary, those countries are presented for each continent which either operate reactors or which are planning to start or are already building NPPs.

Different approaches are being taken around the world with regard to the utilisation of nuclear energy for power generation. There are roughly three groups: While some are aiming to phase out nuclear power in the short or medium term, others are extending the lifetimes of nuclear power plants (NPPs), while others are planning new plants and, in some cases, are also extending their lifetimes.

The arguments put forward include the following: For example, supporters cite the reliability with which electricity is supplied from nuclear power or point to the comparatively low carbon footprint during operation, which is seen as a plus in the fight against climate change. Opponents point e.g. to the risk of accidents, the expense associated with the disposal of radioactive waste, or the comparatively high costs and long construction times for building the plants.

This dossier provides an overview of nuclear power worldwide. It is updated once a year and published on the GRS website.

Situation worldwide

Overview worldwide (Fossils: Coal, natural gas, oil; renewables: hydro, wind, solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, tidal, biofuel)
Overview worldwide

According to the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are currently 413 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide with an average age of around 32 years. In 2023, a total of six new reactor units were connected to the grid, and two Japanese units that had been shut down since 2011 (nuclear disaster at Fukushima) were also restarted. In contrast, there are five decommissioned units, three of which are the last German plants Emsland, Isar-2 and Neckarwestheim-2.

In addition to the running reactors, there are another 25 reactors in PRIS that are running in "suspended operation" mode. These are reactors that have been shut down for the long term but have not yet been permanently decommissioned. 21 of these "long-term outage reactors" are located in Japan, the remaining four in India. The fact that some of these "long-term outage reactors" were still listed as "in operation" by the respective countries last year explains the difference to the number of reactors and the net installed capacity from the previous year: Although three more reactors are actually operating, nine fewer reactors are listed here. Accordingly, the net installed capacity fell by 6,804 to 371,510 MWe.

With regard to the PRIS figures, it should also be noted that the respective IAEA countries enter their data into the database themselves. This regularly leads to delays. For example, according to the operator, Kursk-II has been shut down since the end of January but is still listed as operational in PRIS. The average age figures in this text are calculated from the date of commercial operation and reflect the status as of January 2024 from the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR).

Figure 1: Nuclear energy's share of global electricity production
Abbildung 1: Anteil der Kernenergie an der weltweiten Stromproduktion

While the absolute amount of electricity generated in nuclear power plants worldwide has remained largely unchanged during the period under review, its relative share of the global electricity mix fell below the 10 per cent mark in 2022 for the first time in around 40 years (the peak value was 17.5% in 1996).

On the one hand, this is due to the fact that more and more electricity is being generated using renewable energies; on the other hand, electricity generation based on fossil fuels has also increased significantly compared to previous years and decades.

The figures in this text relating to the global electricity mix and for the respective continents are taken from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and reflect the situation in 2021; the figures relating to electricity generation in the individual countries are taken from the current WNISR and reflect the situation in 2022.

Figure 2: Number of reactors commissioned (blue) and shut down (brown) worldwide
Abbildung 2: Anzahl in Betrieb genommener (blau) und abgeschalteter Reaktoren (braun) weltweit

The following trends can be recognised when looking at the constantly changing global reactor landscape: The majority of new reactor units are being built in Asia, whereas most of the reactors being dismantled are located in Western Europe and North America.

Accordingly, the average age of reactors in Asia is comparatively low. New reactor units also have a higher average output than those that have been decommissioned, meaning that the installed output can increase despite a decline in the number of reactor units. One exception is the so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMR): Miniature NPPs are expected to play an important role in the medium-term planning of low-CO2, decentralised electricity production in a number of countries.

[Note: Since 2022, the Russian Federation, together with the Central Asian republics, Azerbaijan and Georgia, has been included in the IEA's new Eurasia category. The figures for the European electricity mix therefore do not include the figures for these countries, which are instead included for Asia. As far as the number of reactors is concerned, we follow the IAEA system, which counts Russia as part of Europe.]


Overview Europe
Overview Europe

In Europe, nuclear energy accounted for around 21% of total electricity generation in 2021. A total of 168 reactors are in operation in Europe, with an average age of 35.6 years. 13 reactors are currently under construction and 128 are being dismantled.


Germany finally phased out the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation in 2023: On 15 April, the last three nuclear power plants Emsland, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim II were shut down.

However, nuclear power plants are not the only nuclear facilities in Germany. The six research reactors currently in operation may continue to be operated. The same applies to the so-called nuclear fuel supply and disposal facilities. In addition to the interim and (future) final storage facilities for radioactive waste, these include the fuel fabrication plant at Lingen and the uranium enrichment plant at Gronau.

Western Europe

Nuclear energy accounts for the largest percentage of the global electricity mix in France. In 2022 it was 63%. With 56 reactors, France is also the European leader in this respect. However, the last reactor was connected to the grid in 1999 and the average age is 38.6 years. A new unit is currently being built at the Flamanville NPP. The construction project began in 2007 and was originally scheduled for completion by 2012. However, the schedule has been extended several times and the costs have multiplied since then, most recently from 12.7 to 13.2 billion euros (originally forecast at 3.3 billion euros). Nevertheless, nuclear energy will continue to play an important role in France's climate protection plans: In addition to the expansion of renewable energies, France's energy plan also provides for an extension of the lifetimes of existing NPPs and the construction of six new EPR-2 reactors at existing sites (Penly, Gravelines and Bugey). The realisation of eight additional new EPR-2 reactors has been under review since the beginning of 2024. The construction of an SMR prototype is also due to start in 2030 with NUWARD.

The United Kingdom also continues to rely on nuclear energy - around 14% of the electricity produced there currently comes from nuclear power plants. Nine reactor units are currently in operation and 36 reactor units are being dismantled. The British government has been pursuing the construction of new NPPs for some time. Two new EPR reactors are currently under construction (Hinkley Point C-1 and -2) and two further EPR reactors are planned for the Sizewell C site - preparatory work has already begun. In 2020, the construction of new nuclear power plants (NPPs) was defined as part of a ten-point plan for a "Green Industrial Revolution". Building on the "Powering Up Britain" strategy paper published at the end of March 2023, the British government published the "Civil Nuclear Roadmap" in January 2024, which sets the target of expanding nuclear generation capacity to up to 24 GW by 2050. It should be noted that the eight AGR units (approx. 4.8 GW) will have to be shut down for good by the end of this decade due to advanced ageing effects in the graphite moderator. The installed capacity of currently around 6.5 GW will then drop significantly, as the 3.2 GW from the new construction of Hinkley Point C will be delayed. For this reason, the options for a temporary extension of the AGR units are currently being examined. In addition to the construction of large NPPs, the government is also promoting the development and future use of SMRs in the UK.

Belgium should also be emphasised in particular: Five reactors are currently still in operation here, with nuclear power covering 46.4% of electricity demand in 2022. However, Doel 3 was shut down in September 2022, followed by Tihange 2 in February 2023. Three further reactors are due to be shut down for good in 2025 after 50 years of operation each. However, the two newest units, Doel 4 and Tihange 3, are to continue operating until the end of 2036 - an agreement to this effect was concluded between the Belgian government and operator Engie Electrabel in June 2023. There are no plans for new reactors in Belgium, but 100 million euros are to be invested in research and development of SMRs.

According to the new coalition agreement, two new reactor units are to be built in the neighbouring Netherlands in addition to the one operated at Borssele; the government has earmarked 5 billion euros for this purpose. The target date for commissioning the new units is 2035. In all likelihood, the new units will be built on the site of the current Borssele NPP, whose service life is to be extended beyond 60 years.

The Scandinavian neighbour Sweden operates a total of six reactors, which together cover around 30% of the country's electricity generation. The Swedish government adopted a nuclear energy roadmap in 2023, which envisages the construction of two (by 2033) and a further ten (by 2045) conventional reactors and SMRs.

No major expansion activities can be identified in Western Europe as a whole. Apart from France and the UK, which are currently building, only Finland can be mentioned here: In spring 2023, Olkiluoto-3 was the first reactor to be connected to the grid in Western Europe since 2002. The average age of Finnish reactors is 36.2 years, and the 35 per cent share of nuclear energy in the electricity mix from 2022 has increased with Olkiluoto-3. The government has also announced that the service life of the VVER 440 units will be extended from 50 to 70 years. Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the new construction project for a Russian VVER-1200 at the Hanhikivi site, which had already begun, was cancelled.

What all current new construction projects in Western Europe have in common is that the originally calculated costs and construction times have increased massively.

In addition to Belgium, Switzerland and Spain are currently planning to phase out nuclear energy: The four reactors in Switzerland (36.4% share) are allowed to run until they reach the end of their service life but cannot be replaced by new ones. There is no date for the shutdown in Switzerland. The seven Spanish reactors are to be gradually taken off the grid by 2035, with the first shutdown planned for 2027 (Almaraz 1).

Central and Eastern Europe

In 2022, the 15 reactors in Ukraine produced 55% of the total amount of electricity. Despite the war situation and the associated safety-related risk factors, the country will probably continue to rely on nuclear power as its most important form of electricity generation, at least in the medium term. Two largely complete VVER-1000s are to be finalised at the Khmelnytskyi site (without Russian participation); in addition, two further AP-1000s are to be built there by Westinghouse to compensate for the loss of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya NPP. A total of nine AP-1000 reactors are planned in Ukraine. Some of the operating reactors have been granted lifetime extensions.

In Slovakia, the fifth reactor, Mochovce-3, started commercial operation in 2023. In 2022, the share of the total electricity mix was still 59.2%. Another VVER-440 is due to follow in 2025.

Hungary currently obtains almost half of its electricity from four VVER-440 units. There are plans to build two Russian VVER-1200 units at the Paks site, and preparatory work is underway.

In Slovenia, the only nuclear reactor at the Krško site accounts for 41% of the country's net electricity generation. In January 2023, the lifetime of the NPP was extended by 20 years until 2043. Nuclear power is to be expanded in the future in order to achieve the country's CO2 targets; two nuclear power plant units are planned depending on the demand for electricity.

An AP-1000 is also to be built in Bulgaria; a corresponding plan was approved by parliament in 2021 and the front-end engineering and design contract was signed in 2023. It is intended to supplement the two VVER-1000 reactors at the Kozloduy site, which currently produce around a third of the total electricity.

Romania operates two Candu reactors, and two further Candu units are expected to be completed by 2031. Romania also plans to build an SMR designed by the US company NuScale.

In the Czech Republic, two 1000 MW units to be built at the Dukovany site have been put out to tender, and two new units are also planned at the country's second site, Temelin. KHNP and EdF are to submit their bids by mid-April 2024. The construction of SMRs is also planned for Temelin in the near future. Six pressurised water reactors currently produce 36.6% of the Czech Republic's electricity.

Poland is planning to embark in the nuclear energy sector, with the first reactor scheduled to go into operation in 2033 and five more to follow by 2043. Contracts have been concluded with American companies (Westinghouse and Bechtel) for the Lubiatowo-Kopalino site on the Baltic Sea for the construction of three AP-1000s. At the same time, negotiations are underway with the Korean company KHNP for the construction of APR-1400 plants. There is also great interest in the SMR sector.

The first reactor unit in Belarus has been in operation for two years, while the second went into commercial operation on 1 November 2023.

In Russia, 20% of total electricity is produced by 36 reactors, whose average age is 29.1 years. Over the last ten years, nine new reactors have been commissioned, including the Akademik Lomonosov floating NPP with two reactors. The construction of two land-based SMRs in Siberia has begun. Further units of various types are under construction or planned (e.g. VVER-TOI at Kursk or BREST-300 at Seversk). Russia is also very active abroad: In addition to Hungary, Russia is realising new builds in Egypt, Iran, India, China, Bangladesh and also in Turkey, where a nuclear power plant with four Russian VVER-1200 is currently being built. Commissioning is scheduled to take place between 2025 and 2028. Two further sites have already been selected.

The Americas

Overview Americas
Overview Americas

In 2021, nuclear energy accounted for around 14% of the total electricity mix on the American continent. There are 119 reactors with an average age of 41.7 years in operation. However, there is a clear north-south divide here: While a total of 112 reactors are in operation in the USA and Canada, there are just 7 to the south. Three units are currently under construction on the American continent and 47 reactors are permanently shut down.

There are 93 reactors in the United States, more than in any other country in the world; they provided 18% of the electricity in the year before last. The average age of the reactors is 42.6 years. The Vogtle-3 plant was added in 2023, only the second reactor in this millennium (after WATTS BAR-2 in 2016); Vogtle-4 is due to follow this year. The USA is also focusing on lifetime extensions: An extension from 40 to 60 years has already been decided for the majority of reactors, a further extension to 80 years has been approved for six reactor units and eleven more are currently under review; 100-year lifetimes are at least being considered aloud. However, as in some cases the retrofitting required for such lifetime extensions would have been too expensive, a number of plants have been shut down. Most recently, this is what happened in the case of the only unit of the Palisades NPP in the state of Michigan, which, however, is to be restarted by the end of 2025 with government assistance. Nuclear energy is to play a greater role in the Biden administration's energy planning. The development of new reactor concepts is to be promoted, especially of SMRs. The first SMR project in the USA with six planned NuScale reactors at a site near Idaho Falls had to be cancelled due to exploding costs. In addition, American companies are again increasingly interested in reactor projects (including SMRs) abroad, such as in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. In light of the energy and climate crisis, the state of California has decided not to shut down the two units at the Diablo Canyon NPP - instead, the licensee submitted an application for a lifetime extension to the US regulatory authority in November 2023; the currently valid operating licences expire on 2 November 2024 (Unit 1) and 26 August 2025, respectively. The NRC has approved the continued operation of the plant in principle.

The 19 CANDU reactors (heavy water reactors, average age 40.5 years) in Canada produce around 13% of the electricity mix. The USA's northern neighbour is also relying on lifetime extensions and SMRs. No new reactor units are under construction yet, but the site for the first commercial SMR has already been determined: the construction licence for a BWRX-300 at the Darlington site is due to be issued in 2025, with completion planned for the end of this decade.

Reactors are operated in only three countries south of the USA: One CANDU and two heavy water reactors based on a design by the former German manufacturer KWU in Argentina and two each in Mexico (BWR from the American manufacturer GE) and Brazil (2-loop plant from Westinghouse and PWR based on KWU design). The share of the electricity mix in these countries is between 2.4 and 5.4%. An SMR is currently being built in Argentina, the contract for the construction of Hualong-1 with a gross output of 1,200 MW at the Atucha site was signed with China at the beginning of February 2022; in Brazil, work on a third unit at Angra was resumed after a six-year interruption (reference plant Angra-2).


Overview Asia
Overview Asia

In Asia, nuclear energy accounts for just 6% of total electricity production; 124 reactors are in operation in eight countries. In addition, there are 25 "suspended operation reactors", 21 of which are Japanese reactors that have been shut down since the nuclear accident at Fukushima. The average age of the reactors in operation is 17.4 years. In addition, 39 new units are being built here - 23 of them in China and eight in India. On the other hand, 34 reactors are being dismantled. No other continent is building anywhere near as many new NPPs. It should be borne in mind that Asia accounts for more than 50% of the world's population and that energy demand has not multiplied as much on any other continent in recent decades. A correspondingly large number of other (especially fossil-fuelled) power plants have been built, which also explains the relatively low share of nuclear energy in the electricity mix.

Far East

Nuclear energy accounts for 5% of the total electricity mix in China. This is due to 56 reactors with an average age of just 10.1 years. One new reactor was commissioned last year and 23 new reactor units of various types are currently being built, including various PWR types as well as high-temperature reactors, fast breeder reactors and other SMR types. In addition to the expansion of renewable energies, nuclear energy plays an important role in China's efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. This is also reaffirmed in the current 5-year plan, according to which further new reactor constructions are planned. China is also trying to enter new markets in order to sell its technology and expertise.

In South Korea, the share of nuclear energy in total electricity production is quite a bit higher: the 26 reactors currently in operation produce more than 30%. The new government has cancelled the planned phase-out; in addition to the expansion of renewable energies, nuclear energy is to help achieve the country's climate targets: The share of the electricity mix is to be increased to 35% by 2036; one reactor has been connected to the grid in each of the last two years and two more are currently under construction. South Korea is also endeavouring to get involved in construction projects in various countries: In the United Arab Emirates, three Korean units have already started commercial operation and another is about to do so; talks are underway with Egypt, Poland, the Czech Republic and Uganda, for example.

Japan is of course one of the countries whose energy policy was heavily influenced by Fukushima. Before the day of the accident, 54 reactors were in operation there, covering almost 30% of electricity demand. These were initially all shut down after the disaster; twelve of them are now back on the grid, most recently the two units Takahama-1 and -2 in August and September 2022, respectively, with more to follow in the coming years. On the other hand, 27 reactors are currently being dismantled. The current share of the electricity mix is around 6.1% - however, the current government plans to increase the share to between 20 and 22% by 2030. In December 2022, it also adopted a directive that provides for the service life of existing reactors to be extended beyond the current limit of 60 years. In the long run, next-generation reactors are to be built to replace old power plants.

Following the events at Fukushima, Taiwan decided to phase out nuclear energy. The remaining two reactors are to continue generating electricity until 2025 before they are decommissioned; in 2022, three reactors (at that time) produced 9.1% of the country's electricity.

The situation is different in India, where a further eight units are currently being built in addition to the 22 reactors currently in operation. The new builds are India's own developments based on the CANDU and Russian reactor units. There are also plans to build six new reactor units of western design.

Middle and Far East

Nuclear energy is also used to generate electricity in Pakistan: Six reactor units cover 10.6% of the country's electricity demand. One Hualong-1 each was commissioned at the Karachi site in 2021 and in 2022.

In Iran, the first reactor unit has been in operation for a good twelve years; two VVER-1000 units are under construction at the Bushehr site. According to Iranian information, a further four-unit plant is to be built in the south of the country.

There are also a number of countries in Asia that are currently starting their nuclear energy journey. These include Bangladesh, where two Russian-designed reactor units are currently being built, and the United Arab Emirates, where three reactors have gone into operation since 2020 and another was due to follow last year and is expected to go online this year.


Overview Africa
Overview Africa

Only two reactors are operated in Africa, which produce around 1% of the total electricity mix. They are both located in South Africa, where nuclear energy accounts for 6% of the electricity mix. Both plants were built at the same time and were connected to the grid in 1984 and 1985, respectively, resulting in an average age of 39.1 years.

However, as the power grids on the continent will need to be expanded in the coming years, nuclear energy could play a greater role here in the future. This also makes the continent interesting for foreign investors, and some countries (e.g. Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda) are specifically looking at how to realise a move towards nuclear energy.

In Egypt, four Russian reactor units (VVER-1200) are to be built at the El Dabaa site. The construction licences have all been granted and construction work on the first three units is underway.